June 27, 2013

Lightning strikes twice; more bad weather ahead


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Two lightning strikes knocked out Mountain Lake PBS’s facilities on Lyon Mountain in recent storms.

The first, on Tuesday night, hit the public-television transmitter site there, killing the broadcast signal.

At about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, lightning struck and set fire to the transformers that power the broadcast tower at the same location.


Thunderstorms with heavy rainfall struck the North Country on Tuesday, when responders dealt with and closed flooded roads around Clinton County.

On Wednesday, storm-tossed trees weighed down power lines at various spots, including on Route 9 near the border between the towns of Chazy and Champlain and another in Morrisonville.

Heavy rain fell through the morning in some areas; minor flooding closed Corlear Bay Road in Chesterfield and Whallon’s Bay Road in Essex in late afternoon.

No flooding was reported in Clinton or Franklin counties, but a washed-out water main caused the Clinton County Health Department to declare a boil-water order for Village of Dannemora Water District users from the intersection of Cook and Mountain View streets west on Cook Street. 

Wednesday morning, vehicles moving along the west lane of North Margaret Street in the City of Plattsburgh sent up huge spray as they moved through a lot of water, but officials weren’t concerned that the situation would escalate to the kind of flooding that shut down that stretch in May 2011.

And the Saranac River was not threatening to overflow its banks, City Police Sgt. Ken Parkinson said.


As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, roads that remained closed in Clinton County were True Brook Road in Saranac, Chazy Lake Road in Ellenburg Depot, Corlear Bay Road in Keeseville and Guide Board Road in Schuyler Falls, according to Clinton County Dispatch.

Guide Board Road reopened shortly after 3:30 p.m.

But the hazardous-weather outlook from the National Weather Service showed northern Franklin County and western Clinton County could be in for more rough weather the next few days.

Storms expected until 7 p.m. Wednesday were expected to bring 50-mph wind gusts, small hail and heavy downpours in some spots, as well as cloud-to-ground lightning.

The heavy rain added to already saturated land could raise the potential for flooding in low-lying areas and a quick rise of water levels for smaller streams and rivers.

Weather observers said there is a potential for up to 6 inches of rain in the region starting Thursday and lasting into next Tuesday.

“Given the recent rainfall and saturated soils, the potential for flash flooding continues to increase late Thursday into Friday … with the greatest threat (in) parts of the northern Adirondacks,” a Weather Service bulletin states.

“A flash-flood watch will likely be needed for parts of the region late Thursday into Saturday.”


John Bashaw II, deputy director of Franklin County Emergency Services, said there were no reports of flooding problems as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.

He said the water level of Saranac Lake was high but not causing any particular problems yet. However, the pending rainstorms could change that in a hurry.

“They’re saying 6 inches of rain, which is horrible,” Bashaw said. “We’ll really be watching Saranac Lake for the next few days.”

“Right now, we’re in pretty decent shape,” Clinton County Emergency Services Director Eric Day said Wednesday afternoon. “That rain we had this morning didn’t really cause any major problems for anybody.” 

However, Clinton County emergency authorities will keep a watchful eye on the weather, he said.

“Any major rainfalls over the next few days have the potential to cause flooding,” Day said. “With all the rain we’ve had over the past week, the ground is pretty saturated.

“We’re going to be watching the rivers and reacting accordingly where we need to.”


Day advises that those who live in areas that are known to flood to be vigilant, in light of the weather.

“Now’s the time that you need to be aware of what’s going on and watch for signs of potential flooding.”

As with all flooding situations, drivers should never enter portions of a road covered in standing or running water, Day said.

“That stuff is very dangerous. You just don’t know what’s underneath.”

It’s possible the road could be damaged or washed out, he said.

Those who encounter flooding should contact their local highway department, Day said.

For especially serious inundation that could put drivers or pedestrians in danger, call 911, he said.


Lyon Mountain Volunteer Fire Department was called out to deal with the Mountain Lake transformer blaze on Wednesday.

By afternoon, the public-television station and other organizations that rent tower space there had no power. 

While the Mountain Lake PBS signal was still available on Charter Cable, all other viewing was offline.

A crew headed out to access the damage mid afternoon, and it was expected the signal would be restored to Time Warner Cable by sometime Wednesday evening and to most of Mountain Lake’s other cable providers within a few days.

In Dannemora, water-main repairs will be completed after the flood recedes enough to give access to where it ruptured, the Health Department said. 

Water for drinking, cooking, ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food must be boiled for one minute then cooled before use. 

”Boiling kills most bacteria and other organisms in the water,” a release from the Health Department said.

The order will remain in place until two samples taken between eight and 24 hours apart show no total coliform bacteria.

— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.


Between June 1 and 16, 5.88 inches of rain has fallen in the Plattsburgh region, according to the National Weather Service in Burlington. Last year's figure over that same time period was 1.59 inches, meteorologist Eric Evenson said. He didn't have an average normal rainfall for Plattsburgh, but in the Burlington area, it's 3.06 inches, he said. And he estimated it wouldn't be much difference on the west side of Lake Champlain. In June as of Wednesday, 7.26 inches of rain fell in Burlington; last year, 1.64 inches of precipitation was measured. So far, Evenson said, it's the fifth-wettest June on record there, based on statistics compiled over more than a century. The Weather Service only looks ahead 10 days, and Evanson said it looks like they all will be wet ones. Moisture from the Southeast United States and Atlantic Ocean has been feeding the recent storms, he said. Weather moving in from Gulf of Mexico will fuel the rain moving in.